You could use a sultry, warm libation to carry you into the New Year, I know. I’m so excited to share one of my favorite drinks from Europe: Glühwein (GLOO-vine)! Spending six years living in Germany never had its bad moments. If nothing else, I was pissed that the Army made us come back to the States! No matter, the powers that be- did, but not before I learned to make a mean pot of Glühwein.
Was ist Es? (that’s German)
Glühwein is Mulled Wine, or red wine that’s been heated and infused with aromatic spices. You’ll need a good quality red wine (one bottle for a couple of people), and orange (or two), brown sugar (my twist), fresh ginger, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon sticks, star anise, allspice, and my other twist: Apple Pear Brandy.
The Apple-Pear brandy is optional. You can substitute it with apple brandy, or leave it out altogether.
Same here, use Pear Liqueur or omit it altogether.
Some of the spices are also interchangeable. You’ll definitely need to use the cinnamon sticks, cloves, and star anise, though.
Make the Simple Syrup
Prior to starting, juice the oranges, then reserve the juice for adding to the Glühwein. Peel off the skin of the oranges using a vegetable peeler.
In a small sauce pan, combine the water and the brown sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar slightly. Now, add the orange peel and the ginger coins to the simple syrup. Bring the mixture a gentle simmer, stirring often to encourage that sugar to dissolve. Reduce the heat and allow the orange peel and the ginger to flavor that simple-syrup.
Fill a tea strainer (or a cheesecloth pouch) with the star anise, cloves, a cardamom pod that you’ve cracked open, and the allspice. Tie a piece of kitchen twine around the handle of the tea strainer, then tie the tea strainer to the pot’s handle. This is my way of avoiding the pain in the tuchus of fishing out the loose spices when the Glühwein is done. I just let this tea strainer hang into the pot to flavor the Glühwein.
With a paring knife, I split open a vanilla bean, and scrape out its paste. I add the paste to the pot with the simple syrup, and that’s the end of my flavorings.
Now, add a half-cup of that Apple-Pear Brandy followed by the orange juice.
The main star is the robust red wine that we’re now going to add. Concentrated, warm red wine is amazing…if it’s of good quality. If not, it tastes like hot garbage. BTW, have you used the app that goes along with this 19 Crimes brand of wine? It’s FREAKKKKKY!
Allow the flavors to Infuse
Once you’ve added the wine to the pot, allow the flavors to meld for at least thirty minutes before serving. Once you’re ready to imbibe, remove the rinds, cinnamon sticks, and the ginger coins with a slotted spoon. Don’t forget to remove the tea strainer of spices, as well. You can then discard them. The Glühwein may be served straight from the pot, or you can transfer it to a slow cooker, or a heat safe punch bowl that has a warming element of some kind.
Serve and Enjoy (Responsibly)
This really does take me back to those beautiful German Christkindlmarkts, or Christmas Markets. There was nothing better than wrapping my cold hands around a mug of Glühwein while strolling around ancient villages that were draped in snow. Take me back!! Until then, I’ll always have my memories- and you’ll always have this Glühwein recipe. Pin it so you don’t lose it!
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Glühwein: German Mulled Wine
Use a good quality red wine to make this wintery libation.
- 3/4 cup water
- 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, peels of oranges reserved
- 1 inch peeled ginger, cut into 1/4" thick coins
- 3 3" cinnamon stick, plus more to garnish
- pinch ground nutmeg
- 10 whole cloves
- 1 star anise
- 1 cardamom pod, cracked optional
- 3 allspice berries optional
- 1 vanilla bean, split (or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract)
- 1/2 cup Apple-Pear Brandy (or plain brandy)
- 1 bottle (750 mL) dry red wine (cabernet sauvignon or syrah)
- orange slices for garnish optional
In a small sauce pan, combine the water and the brown sugar. Add the reserved orange peel, ginger coins, cinnamon sticks, and the nutmeg to the simple syrup.
Bring the mixture a gentle simmer, stirring often to encourage the sugar to dissolve. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 5 minutes, allowing the orange peel and the ginger to flavor that simple-syrup.
Fill a tea strainer (or a cheesecloth pouch) with the cloves, star anise, cardamom, and allspice. Tie the tea strainer to the pot's handle with a piece of kitchen twine and let it hang into the liquid in the pot. This trick to flavor the simple syrup is easier than fishing out loose spices when the Glühwein is done.
Scrape out the vanilla bean's paste, then add the paste to the pot with the simple syrup, and stir to combine. Allow this syrup to infuse for 5 minutes.
After 5 minutes, add the apple-pear brandy and the orange juice to the pot, followed by the red wine.
Once you've added the wine to the pot, allow the Glühwein to warm on low for at least 30 minutes before serving.
When you're ready to serve, remove the rinds, cinnamon sticks, and ginger coins with a slotted spoon; remove the tea strainer as well. Discard the aromatics.
The Glühwein may be served straight from the pot, or transferred to a slow cooker. Serve the Glühwein in heat-safe mugs, garnished with an orange slice and a cinnamon stick. Enjoy responsibly.